March 25, 2023
Kansas City, Missouri, USA
Elite 8 Pregame Media Conference
THE MODERATOR: We are semi ready to begin with the University of Texas. Coach Terry will be here in just a bit. Let's start our interview session with our student-athletes. As you can see from the name cards, we have Timmy Allen, Tyrese Hunter, Marcus Carr, Sir'Jabari Rice, and Brock Cunningham.
Guys, welcome. Congratulations on your victory yesterday. Let's go to questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Tyrese, what were your impressions of Miami when you played them last year in the Tournament? In what ways do you think this Hurricanes team is different than last year?
TYRESE HUNTER: I think last year they played very fast. I think they was kind of everywhere on defense, just playing, trying to get out in transition. I really don't see no difference this year.
Honestly they kind of filled in the roles of the players they lost last year. Just getting out, running and jumping, playing fast up and down, and keeping the pace up.
Q. For any of you really, can you just talk about after watching Miami play Houston, what are some of the things that you think are most important to try to stop them? They've scored so many points. What do you have to do to stop them a little bit, limit them?
MARCUS CARR: Like you said, they're a great team. Obviously they're playing really well right now. They played really well yesterday. Just the physicality. That's the biggest thing we noticed.
A few of us and everybody, we've closed scrimmaged Houston the last few years. So we understand what a physical team they are and how they attack the glass. So to see the job Miami did against them and the physicality and the way they rebounded the ball, definitely speaks to the toughness of their team and how they play. So we're going to have to match that.
Q. On that same topic, can you talk about Norchad Omier. Is he different than any player you've seen before? People just talk about his strength, just brute strength. How do you seem him as an opponent?
MARCUS CARR: I don't know if I could speak to his strength. It's pretty evident watching the film, but I haven't played him before. So I can't personally attest to it.
Obviously he's a great rebounder, a great player. He's been doing that for them all year. We're definitely going to have to do a job on him.
Q. Timmy, can you just talk about the evolution of this team's defensive buy-in? Because it seems like things -- you know, the offense opened up a little bit under Rodney, but maintaining that buy-in on defense, can you just talk about that?
TIMMY ALLEN: Yeah, I think we really started to begin to turn the corner on defense when we lost at home against K State. We noticed in the film that we watched that we can't play open gym with teams. When we come down and we focus our energy on getting stops and putting consecutive stops together and we convert those to baskets, then we can create separation.
That's just kind of what we've continued to try to hang our hat on, just get better at one-on-one defense and then get better collectively. As each of us have gotten better at one-on-one defense, we're not in rotations as much, we're trying to contain the ball more, and just keep it in front of us and play tendencies.
So that's really been what it is and gang rebounding at the end of possessions and finishing possessions with a rebound.
We don't really feel there's a lot of mismatches you can put on our team as long as we keep a body in front, a man in front, and are focusing on their strong hand, their tendencies, we can live with the result of that.
So we try to focus in on details, take a lot of pride and effort on one-on-one defense, and covering the mistakes of your teammates next to you.
Q. Marcus, you had a conversation with Tyrese when he was considering making the move and transferring, kind of sold him on it. Why did you know he was a good fit for this team, this program? And for Tyrese, why did you think playing with a guy like Marcus was the right move for you?
MARCUS CARR: Obviously him being a Big 12 Freshman of the Year, I kind of feel like it speaks for itself. Not just that, just going against him, seeing in realtime and real life his speed, his quickness, the way he's able to play-make, his athleticism and score for himself as well.
Just knowing the type of player he was, and knew that he would only add value to us on both ends of the floor. Just the type of player he was. So, yeah, when he was in the portal, he was the guy that we all spoke, and we all said, yeah, we want him.
We knew that other people were -- maybe even him would have questions about us playing together and thinking that wouldn't work. So me just reaching out and letting him know, hey, we want you here, I want you here. I know that we're going to fit well together.
If you feel like this is the right place for you, we know that we want you here. It ended up working out all right.
TYRESE HUNTER: I watched Marcus in high school, just seeing his scoring instincts, his IQ for the game, and just knew I could see myself playing alongside someone like that.
To get the opportunity to play with him was big. In the summertime he recruited me, like he was one of the head coaches himself. He was talking about the fit, the feel, and how we can get to the opportunity that we're in right now.
Just seeing so many people talk about how it could work and how it couldn't work didn't faze us at all. We knew the plan. And the footsteps we had to follow behind our coaching staff and our support system, and we just had to get it done.
Q. Timmy, how much does your role change with Dylan probably not playing? And what have you seen from Christian playing extended minutes with Dylan out?
TIMMY ALLEN: I'm going to start with Christian. He's a guy who's always been prepared. He's a guy who's always accepted his role. He was one of the more dominant, forceful guys for us last year coming back. When he came to coming off the bench, he had no shake. He wasn't tripping. He wasn't worried about himself.
So for him to come in and be prepared is no surprise for me. He's a guy who's always ready. He's always paid his dues. He's always in the gym. He's always working, ready for his opportunity.
So I know he's going to come in and be impactful and play defense and rebound at a high level when Dylan's not there.
But for me, when Dylan's not playing, I usually size up a little bit, guarding a little bit bigger, just taking whatever assignment is given to me and just knowing that I've got to cover and rebound. Try to protect the rim, whether that be jump balls or taking a charge, because I'm not blocking a ton of shots like he is. Just try to fill in the gaps, play off my teammates. And when C.B. comes in, he's rocking. So there's no fret there.
Q. For Timmy and Brock, you guys took turns guarding Xavier's a big guy. This team's got seven guys that are 6'7" or taller. Is there another team you played this year that matches up like that with you having that much height?
BROCK CUNNINGHAM: I think K-State is a good comparison, all the way to their guard play. They've got some size. But it's just how hard we play. We haven't been the biggest team on the court maybe just a few times this season, but we've got versatile players that can play a bunch of positions. It's been a big part of our success.
TIMMY ALLEN: Going off what he said, size of our opponent has never been an issue for us really. We try to use our hustle, our grit and our toughness to outmatch that. Like Brock said, we've got a lot of different guys who can guard a lot of different players, guard big, guard small. Guards can guard big, guard small. So we're versatile. We're ready for whatever.
Q. Brock, it's obvious watching you, you all are playing loose. You're playing with joy. You look free out there. What is it that has allowed this team to sort of play without getting weighed down by the pressure that comes with this level of competition?
BROCK CUNNINGHAM: I think it goes back to our age and the veterans we have on the team. There's guys in this room that have lived a lot outside of basketball and played a lot of basketball as well. We go down against Penn State a couple points, some teams would freeze up and the moment would be too big, but we've got big time players that are able to get the game back.
We're having a lot of fun playing with each other. We don't want it to end, and we want this season to go all the way.
Q. Coach Terry, what does he do maybe specifically to kind of allow you guys to be loose and free and kind of be yourselves?
BROCK CUNNINGHAM: He's pretty loose if we're playing defense. If we're guarding defense, he's not too worried about the shots we're getting because we've got good offense, we have smart players. I would say 90 percent of his focus is on the defensive end because that's what wins.
Q. Marcus, what did beating Kansas in the span of a week twice do for this team's confidence as you all were headed into the postseason?
MARCUS CARR: Obviously Kansas is a great team. Beat us out for the regular season, Big 12 championship. That was one of our goals for sure, a box that we wanted to tick. So beating them twice in a week span, it was really just more of -- I think it just speaks to the direction that our team was just going and how well we were playing at the end of the year.
Obviously Kansas is a great team, great program. It's always a battle when we go up against those guys. I think we were just coming together at the right time. Our defense was strengthening at the right time. We've just been able to be on a run and play going up.
So we just happened to have Kansas on our schedule for the last game of the regular season. Obviously them being a good team, us meeting them in the Big 12 championship.
Yeah, definitely those wins, but just all the wins that we've had recently really just feeding into the confidence of our team, knowing that if we execute our game plan, if we play well defensively, then we're going to have a chance.
Q. Brock and Timmy, can you talk about your help defense down low? It seemed like last night it was really on point. So just talk about how when a guy's driving, there always seems to be a help defender there.
BROCK CUNNINGHAM: It starts with knowing the matchups. If a guy is as capable of a three-point shooter, we're able to drop down and help the guards. It just goes down to our versatility and our scrappiness. We've got 14 guys that are willing to do anything to win and stick their head in there to get the ball out.
But just knowing personnel and wanting to play defense is the biggest part of that.
TIMMY ALLEN: Like he said, just the want to, the will to, taking pride in it. Getting upset if your man gets a basket.
But at the end of the day, it comes down to one-on-one defense. We're at our best when we're flying around and covering each other's mistakes. We're not out there not making mistakes. We're just covering those up with miraculous plays, whether it's a steal or a block or a charge.
So we just put trust in it and hang our hat on that.
Q. This is for Jabari and Timmy: Jabari, first off, you had that moment last night where you're saying "we're here" to the crowd. What does that do for y'all's confidence and how you can continue to get the ball rolling and continue to just ball out when you're able to talk to the crowd and talk to the fans during the game? For Marcus, I just had a question for your daughter Kyrie. Were you surprised she stayed up the whole night to watch the whole game? Or were you shocked when you saw her after the game she was still awake?
SIR'JABARI RICE: I think it's always nice to have the fans involved because the fans that travel here to come see our game. It's just a blessing for us to be able to put on a show like that in front of them. So to engage with them is always a good thing. I think it builds confidence for us just to be able to have somebody behind us, have people behind us because it's not always like that.
So when you get that opportunity, I think we just take advantage of it and just try to keep them behind us to give us that little bit of an advantage that we need.
MARCUS CARR: Me and her mom tried to plan it out and make her take a later nap so that she could stay up a bit later. It's definitely past her bedtime.
She loves hoops. She's a hoop head already. I don't think she was too, too upset about being up for the game.
Q. You guys came in loose and having a good time. Somebody was singing. It was horrible. Who was it?
TIMMY ALLEN: It was I. But I was BSing. It wasn't real.
TYRESE HUNTER: Oh, that was real, definitely.
TIMMY ALLEN: I was singing with the bros. It was not serious.
SIR'JABARI RICE: Definitely serious.
MARCUS CARR: For those who don't know, Timmy is an aspiring R&B artist. We're working on getting him some studio time, and we'll see what he cooks up. But, yeah, that was a little preview if -- (laughter).
TIMMY ALLEN: It's hard to duplicate Rihanna. It's RiRi.
TYRESE HUNTER: He don't got a fan in you, huh?
Q. Timmy, you all were in the room in December. You find out your head coach is not your head coach. In that moment, what did Rodney Terry say to you all to make you feel like the season wasn't over and you guys are going to be in good hands?
TIMMY ALLEN: He gave us reassurance of our plan. He gave us a clear view. He gave us a voice. He gave us a steady voice. And I don't think you could overlook that.
I think a lot of guys on this team were looking for guidance after that, looking for someone to follow, looking for someone to lead by example, and he's done that flawlessly.
He's been somebody who's given me and the guys around me a lot of confidence. For example, in the game yesterday, I mean, he shot like three snatch-back, step-back middy twos, but in practice all week, R.T. was saying, trust your pullup, trust your midrange, because he knew he could get to it. So that's just an example.
In that moment, he wasn't unprepared. He looked ready. He looked excited for the opportunity, as he should be. And we had the goal, and we had the plan, and we came here. It's not going to change because bro fell down. R.T.'s stepping up, and he's done it flawlessly.
Q. Marcus, it looked like in pregame introductions yesterday, you ran over to the scorers table or something. You just seemed really pumped up or super charged or something. What were you feeling, and what did you do over there?
MARCUS CARR: That's just something I do before every game when they do introductions. They call my name, and I come out, me and Jabari do our handshake, I dab everybody up, and kind of run to midcourt. Kind of talking to myself, I'm here, I'm ready, ready for the moment. Soaking in the environment.
Obviously I'd never played in the Sweet 16 before. It's something you dream of, always wanted to do. I do that before every game really, soaking in the environment, talk to myself, say I'm ready, I'm here, and let's do this.
THE MODERATOR: We will keep Coach Terry here, but we will excuse our student-athletes.
Q. Rodney, you see your guys out there talking to opponents, letting them know how they feel. That's kind of their vibe a little bit. As a coach, how much do you encourage that, kind of wearing their emotions on their sleeve a little bit during a game?
RODNEY TERRY: We have an older team. We have a team that I always talk to our guys. I like our guys to have swag when they step out on the floor.
I think this year I would reference back to it too, I got a chance to coach P.J. Tucker when he was with us previously. P.J. always had swag. He was one of those guys who always thought he was the baddest dude on the floor no matter what.
I like our guys feeling that way. We have an older team. They play with a lot of emotions. Sometimes I can be an emotional coach as well. But we want to channel it in the right direction and play with a purpose as well.
But I like our guys getting charged up and showing emotion and that they're emotionally attached to the game.
Q. What stands out to you about this Miami team?
RODNEY TERRY: Man, they're well coached. Coach Larranaga, got a lot of respect for him. Over the years we've had a chance to compete previously, when he was coaching at George Mason, and I was at UNC-Wilmington.
He has his team playing at the highest level right now. They can play really fast in transition. They do a great job of really sharing the basketball. They've got great guard play. They have an elite offensive rebounder with the mirror inside. They're a very talented ball club.
They're underrated defensively. They do a great job of really trying to turn you over, their length. They're stunting and doing a great job of really trying to get after you defensively. It's underrated. They're a really, really good ball club.
Any time you win the regular season ACC, you're pretty doggone good.
Q. You talked about being an emotional coach. I think I saw some emotion when Timmy was telling that story about the first day and how you weren't unprepared. He's talked about that before, the awkwardness of that first moment and what you told them. What sticks out to you? Were you unprepared? How could you possibly have been prepared for something like that?
RODNEY TERRY: I don't think there's a playbook for what happened in terms of when it happened or how it happened. I think the one saving grace for myself, I was already in front of our guys. I was kind of a co-head coach with Coach Beard already. So I was already in front of the guys coaching our defense and was always in front of the guys already coaching as opposed to just being an assistant, to where you didn't maybe have as much input.
But I think my one constant message to our guys on that day and moving forward was to live where your feet are, stay in the present right now, and we're going to control what we can control. We're going to continue to have a great season. We're going to block out all the noise. And we're going to play for one another, and we're going to continue to have all our goals and everything that we set out to start the season sit in front of us.
We're going to do it every single day. We're going to do it with a great attitude, great approach, and we're going to be excited about still competing. I thought those guys have done a great job of that every single day. Really living where their feet are, trying to really enjoy the moment, enjoy the journey.
I think, a lot like myself, they don't want this to end.
Q. Going back to Miami, I wanted to ask about Coach Larranaga and maybe any similarities you see between both of you? You've both had a part in bringing these programs back to national prominence recently. I mean, Texas is in their first Elite Eight since 2008, and theCanes made their first Elite Eight in program history last year. Thoughts on that?
RODNEY TERRY: I've always been a fan of Coach Larranaga. Again, I go way back with him to George Mason days. I thought his teams always played with a great joy and a great spirit about themselves. They play loose and freely all the time.
I really looked up to him as a players' coach. Guys really, really enjoy playing for him. They run through a wall for him over the years.
He's brought that to Miami. He's obviously taking them to the top of the league in the ACC. It doesn't get any better than that. A lot of great respect for him and his staff. He has some of his same guys on his staff that he had when he was at George Mason and experienced a high level of success. So he's had really good continuity over the years that have really helped him.
We're only going to be as good as the people around us. I've got a great staff working with me right now. We have great chemistry with how we're doing things and how we've done things the last two years. You can't do it by yourself. I'm blessed to have a really good one behind us.
So Coach Larranaga, a lot of respect for him.
Q. Marcus, Tyrese, Jabari, last night they shared it, they scored it, they protected the ball. How much confidence do you have in a deep run like this when you have those kind of guys running things?
RODNEY TERRY: Well, I think we've done it all season long, to be honest with you. This team, one of the characteristics of this team is they've been extremely unselfish. They play for one another. They've had each other's back. We work on it all the time in terms of sharing the basketball. One guy has a good shot. The other guy has a great shot.
And they've really bought into that mentality. Let's get the best shot that we can get. Let's get a shot up every time now because we knew how hard it is for us to get a defensive stop, we know we've got to earn a basket at the other end.
Let's share the basketball. Let's continue to take care of the basketball. And let's not beat ourselves.
Q. You've got transfers from New Mexico State, Minnesota, Creighton, Utah. It seems fragmented, yet in a short time there's this obvious, very deep, great bond. How do you think that happens?
RODNEY TERRY: I've got to think it happens -- we had seven guys return this year. They gave us a little bit of continuity.
Last year we had an influx of guys -- the one thing we were fighting last year is we were building a culture and we were trying to build a team last year and we were behind on time. We were going against teams a lot of times that had been together a number of years. So we were always saying, man, we're fighting time.
Now we got our seven guys back, we had that experience of those guys being together. Now we needed to blend the new guys, the younger guys in with our older guys. I thought again this year we've been able to defend that culture. I thought we've been able to spend a lot of time this summer with different activities.
A lot of it was player driven, not coach driven. The best teams that have a high level of success, they're player driven, not coach driven. We didn't really have to force feed these guys to spend time with each other off the court and do different activities off the court. They did it willingly on themselves.
They formed a bond this summer and had incredible chemistry that carried over into the fall, off the court right over to on the court. It's really helped us this year have a great year and doing what we're doing right now at this moment.
Q. R.T., a couple questions. It sounded like the defensive buy-in might have happened after the 116-103 game with K-State. Can you talk about that? And then what specifically each members of your staff -- Donewald, McClain, Ogden, Chappell, what are they doing specifically to help prepare the team?
RODNEY TERRY: Great question. Chip's alluding to the game where we played K-State, and people didn't really know how good K-State was at the time. Jerome has done a great job, by the way, this season. Really happy for him and his success and what he's been able to do there at K-State this season.
They came in our building and scored 116 points. We scored 103. We really in November spent a lot of time trying to establish an identity that we were going to be a team every night and every day that we were going to play really hard on defense and we were going to hang our hats every day on trying to be a team that could put stops together.
We didn't put any stops together that night obviously, and they went on and run the game. So a couple days later when we were back on the floor, we really needed to hit the reset button and kind of get back to our identity that we set out with the very beginning.
But from a coaching perspective, I thought it was very important that it didn't take away the fact that we could score. We're a team that could score the basketball. We scored 103 points, and that wasn't a fluke. We're a team that could be an elite team that could play offensively, but we also wanted to be a team that could really guard and be an elite defensive team as well.
So that was kind of a give and take there. I didn't want to come in and take away offense because we can score, but I also had to send a message that, for us to win games or meaningful games in a highly competitive Big 12 conference race, we were going to have to be the guard and take a lot of pride in guarding.
So we kind of hit the reset button, came back, and really worked hard on our defense and tried to have more of a defensive-minded approach, as well as playing with really good pace on offense and still wanting to score the ball at a high level as well.
As for guys on my staff, Bob Donewald is a guy that's worked with our offense since the day he's been here. He does a great job preparing our game plan for what we're trying to do offensively.
Steve McClain has done a great job with our defense. He's done a great job every game, having our guys prepared in terms of what we're doing from a defensive standpoint.
Oggie has really kind of tied in, whether it be special edits on guys, in terms of individual players. We had a big matchup with Pickett with Penn State, probably one of our toughest matchups of the year. He dove into that matchup and what we needed to do defensively in regards to defending him.
Brandon has done a great job with putting together the actions of the opposing team and really taking those to the floor with our scout team.
Our scout team's done a great job this year, by the way, as well. I want to commend those guys. A lot of times those guys don't get the recognition. And the guys that play the game and the guys on the floor, they get the recognition.
Our scout team this year have done a phenomenal job. Cole Bott has done a great job. Alex has done a great job. Gavin has done a great job, Rowan, Preston. Those guys, you never hear those guys' names, but those guys have done a great job every day preparing our guys for the teams they're going to compete against.
They give us great looks in terms of who our opponents are going to be, and I just want to make sure we give those guys a little bit of shine as well. They're incredible, and what they've done for us this season has been amazing. So that's kind of the rundown of our staff in terms of what guys do from a staff-wise. Our staff's been incredible as well.
Q. I'm sure every Texas fan wants a Dylan Disu update. What are the chances he plays tomorrow? And if he's not available, how will you adjust?
RODNEY TERRY: Again, it's day to day. Dylan obviously worked really hard to get to this point of the season right now. We've got the best trainer in the country in Warren, and Warren has done a great job all year long. He'll continue to work with him every single day.
We went through the Big 12 Tournament without Timmy Allen, a guy that had become a real focal point of our offense down the stretch in Big 12 play. Next man up had to step in and do the job for us.
No different type of mentality we'll have going into tomorrow's contest against Miami, next man up, and that will be by committee. It could be Brock. It could be obviously C.B., Christian Bishop, played really well for us. Timmy Allen had to play a little more inside for us as well.
I always say to our guys, we're all we need, we're all we got. You know what I mean? We'll find somebody ready to go, and we'll band together like brothers, and we'll go out and compete against a really, really good Miami team.
Q. You mentioned those guys taking their turns, interior defense. This is a tall team you're facing. Eight guys that are 6'7" or taller. Who have you played this season that reminds you of them, and what problems will they present?
RODNEY TERRY: Always giving a reference point back to our league, I thought our league was the best league in the country. As we've embarked on this postseason play in the NCAA Tournament, I think it always gives your guys a good reference point to someone we played in in our league, and I always try to liken the team we're playing to someone in our league.
Today as we start our preparation this morning, TCU was a team that came to mind when we're talking about Miami. TCU, really good point guard, a lot like one that could play downhill. Mike Miles, preseason Player of the Year. You've got Pack first team all league in the Big 12. Their players, you throw Lampkin out there, either of their bigs, really great offensive rebounders. Miami's got great offensive rebounders, elite offensive rebounders, same type of team. They can play in transition, get up and down the floor.
K-State was the other team. K-State can play fast. They can score the basketball. They can turn you over as well.
But those were two teams that I liken these guys to that we played that were really good teams in our league. Again, a lot of respect for Miami and what they've done this season. They're an excellent ball club.
Q. Coach, you are speaking a lot throughout this season and here in the tournament about God and faith. You haven't shied away from that at all and have leaned on your faith. I just would like to you go a little bit deeper as to why you're unafraid to speak on that and include God in your post-game and pregame press conferences.
RODNEY TERRY: Great question. I was raised by a Christian mom and dad, and my mom was always one that she lived a Christian life. She's here watching us play right now, and she's beaming in the glow and enjoying this ride as well. But she lived a Christian life.
When you live that way, it seemed like I was in church every day. I'm in church every day. I was taught right from wrong. She instilled in me, or they instilled in me, my parents, a great value system with it being faith-based.
You're not going to get anywhere in life without having strong faith. It's always taught me that man's going to disappoint you. God's never going to disappoint you, and he's never going to leave you. He'll be with you in your highest of high moments. He'll be with you in your lowest of low moments. But you have to develop your own relationship with Him.
I love her, and I love my dad for giving me, instilling in me to have that as one of my values in terms of having strong faith. Again, we're not perfect. There's only one person that's going to judge you. He gave His only son to us to be able to forgive us of our sins. I live by that every day, and I have strong faith and strong belief.
I try to not push that down my players' throat, but I try to set a good example for those guys and try to live the right way and hopefully be an inspiration for them to also understand how important it is to have that as a value when they become a father, a provider, and a great husband one day.
Q. With Miami's five-out look, what struggle do they give to you all defensively, and how do you plan to attack that five-out look on offense? Also, how would you rate Timmy Allen's voice?
RODNEY TERRY: I'll answer the first point. I didn't quite hear you on the last part of that question. I'll start with the first part of that question with Miami.
Boy, I'll tell you what, they put so much pressure on you defensively with their pace of play. We call it rebound and go. Any guy can get the rebound and really initiate their offense, which really makes them dangerous in transition. Valuing taking care of the basketball is really big.
This is going to be one of those games where you're going to have to do a great job of trying to guard the basketball. They spread you out. It's going to be really hard to play in rotations because they're a really, really good shooting team. If you're having to play in rotations and they're moving the ball as well as they're capable of moving the basketball, they put a ton of pressure on you with their shot makers.
Then they've got guys that can go rebound the basketball. We're going to have to do a great job of having to guard one-on-one defense and trying to stay out of rotations.
Timmy Allen, as for singing, probably wants to stick to his day job right now, and that's trying to be the best version of himself, being a basketball player first right now and maybe continue to work on honing his skills singing.
Those guys are great young men to be around, and they like having a lot of fun. I encourage them to enjoy this ride and have a joy about themselves here in March.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you very much.
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